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Judging by the small mountain of money it made, I think it’s safe to assume that a whole lot of you watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this weekend past. I also think it’s safe to assume that for many of you, during all the gut-busting guffaws and excited whoops (please, don’t actually whoop in the cinema, that’s annoying) there were moments in director James Gunn’s rocking jaunt through the Marvel cosmos that probably left you scratching your heads. Marvel Comics’ cosmic mythology is a dense creation and Gunn stuffed his movie full of nods, Easter eggs, cameos and a whole five credits-scenes that references a bunch of them.
Luckily for you, we spent far too much of our childhoods reading obscure comics instead of developing proper social skills, so we’re here to fill you in on everything you may have missed. Obviously, SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the movie yet! Seriously, why did you even click on this article to begin with?!
Ayesha and the Sovereign
At first glance Elizabeth DeBicki’s Ayesha and the perfect golden race of the Sovereign may just seem like throwaway second-string villains, but they may actually be very important to the future of the franchise. Ayesha describes herself and her people as being perfect genetically engineered beings, with her especially being the most perfect amongst them, which is actually almost exactly her origin in the comics. The difference though is that in the comics she was created by a group of Earth scientists (with a little bit of help from Doctor Strange) known as the Enclave and initially simply goes by the name Her – one of many identities she would adopt. There is really not much more similar between Her and Ayesha other than their perfection, but you should save that little golden nugget for later.
As for the Sovereign, while their fleet of remote controlled ships are clearly nods back to 1980s video game arcades right down to the sound effects, the rest of their appearance draws fairly heavily on the Universal Church of Truth. This group of religious space zealots have fairly large ties to the Guardians in the comics, as they worship another character named Magus who… we’ll get to that soon enough.
Stakar Ogord and the Guardians of the Galaxy
When we catch up with Michael Rooker’s Yondu on the pleasure planet Contraxia he soon gets an earful from none other than Sylvester Stallone. Yondu refers to Sly as Stakar, a senior captain in the ranks of the Ravagers. In the comics Stakar Ogord is the name of the cosmic character Starhawk, a character created in the early 1970s who has an origin far too complex for me to explain in detail here. In essence, he was the offspring of Kismet, another one of Ayesha’s other identities, who gets kidnapped after his birth and grows up not knowing who he really is. He then has his mind sent back in time into his own infant body. Like I said, complex. And I’m not even getting into him having kids with his adopted sister, who he also had to merge with (not like that, you pervs!) to become the superpowered Starhawk. The most important aspect from the comics though is that Starhawk and Yondu were actually a part of another team of heroes you may have heard of… The Guardians of the Galaxy.
Yes, Peter Quill and his team took on that name when they banded together after the events of 2006’s Annihilation crossover, but they were not the first to do so in Marvel Comics’ history. The original team debuted in 1969 and were a group of heroes from different worlds in an alternate timeline 31st century who teamed up to stop the alien Badoon invasion of the solar system. They would eventually travel back to the 20th century to encounter the modern Marvel heroes but would then become lost to time, so to speak. Stallone’s version of Stakar is obviously very different to his comic book counterpart – who inherited a vast array of powers from a hawk god – but there’s at least a nice nod to Starhawk’s flamboyant headdress with Stallone’s glowing piping on his costume.
If you weren’t too distracted by suddenly seeing Sylvester Stallone, you may also have noticed a walking diamond next to him. Although the strangely crystalline alien member of Stakar’s Ravager crew doesn’t say anything, fans will instantly recognize him as Martinex, another of the original Guardians from the comics. There’s a double Easter egg here though, as Martinex is actually motion captured by Michael Rosenbaum, who you may better know as Lex Luthor from Smallville. Rosenbaum is a friend of Gunn’s and even auditioned for the role of Peter Quill that eventually went to Chris Pratt.
He is of course not the only member of the original Guardians team that shows up as one of the film’s five credits scenes has all the Ravagers gathering to honour the fallen Yondu. Inspired by Yondu’s redemption, Stakar suggests to a handful of the senior captains they should get the old band back together again, and they just happen to be all be members of the original Guardians. There’s Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, a gigantic brute genetically engineered to survive on Jupiter; Michelle Yeoh as Aletta, the adopted sister of Stakar Ogord (yes, that adopted sister); Krugarr, the mute red serpent-like alien who is actually the Sorcerer Supreme from the future (hence why his abilities include the same magical glyphs like those of Doctor Strange); and Mainframe, actually the evolved form of the robotic Vision who in the movie appears as nothing more than an excitable severed head… voiced by Miley Cyrus!
(PS: The casting of Stallone in the movie is an additional Easter egg as it reunites him with his Tango and Cash co-star Kurt Russell, even though they don’t share any scenes together)
Howard the Duck
Also spotted on Contraxia earlier in the film is Howard the Duck, who appeared as an Easter egg in the first movie. The Marvel mallard is a cult favourite comic book character who starred in a very bad 1986 George Lucas movie which Gunn totally hates. He showed up as part of The Collector’s menagerie in the first film and was seen in the credits scene to be set free due to it being destroyed.
For me personally, Michael Rooker’s Yondu is the MVP of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but as amazing as he is, his version of Yondu bears very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart. And that is particularly true when it comes to his head. While movie Yondu starts off sporting a stubby pink mohawk, in the comics Yondu Udonta is an alien archer from Centauri-IV with a gigantic red fin on his head. The two versions get a lot closer to each other though in Vol. 2 when Yondu has to replace his blown off mohawk with a “prototype fin” so that he can telepathically control his incredible arrow. Seeing as Yondu ends up sacrificing himself to save Peter at the end (sniff!), it’s nice that he got to do so looking like his former self.
Stan Lee and the Watchers
This is one of the more ingenious Easter eggs Gunn and co placed in the movie, as both during Yondu and Rocket’s insane intergalactic jump sequence as well as one of the film’s credit scenes we see none other than Marvel legend Stan Lee sitting in a spacesuit on an alien planet chatting to a group of giant, bald aliens. Lee has of course been part of a long-running gag appearing in cameos in most movies based on Marvel comics. This is nothing but a little fun joke by one of the most influential comics creators of all times, but about two years ago a fan theory was posited that maybe there’s more to these cameos. That maybe Stan Lee was actually a Watcher.
In the comics, the Watchers are members of a vastly old race who do exactly as their name implies: watch things. Their job is to just record the history of the universe without ever interfering themselves. The most famous of the Watchers is Uatu, who is tasked to oversee all the events on and around Earth. When a Watcher appears in person, it usually means that something massive was taking place, and the theory suggested that maybe this was why Lee kept showing up in all these movies across multiple film universes – it was simply to witness these events play out.
Well Gunn and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige loved the idea so much that they decided to basically make it canon with these scenes in Guardians Vol. 2, by revealing Lee to be the Watchers’ observer. You can even hear him offering to tell them about the time he was a delivery man, referring to his cameo in Fox’s 2005 Fantastic Four film (as pointed out he was also a FedEx delivery man in Captain America: Civil War, which is probably a better choice for what he was referencing as it takes place in the MCU).
Ego the Living Planet
So we finally get to meet Peter Quill’s dad… and he’s a planet… who also looks like Kurt Russell. In the comics, Peter Quill has absolutely nothing to do with Ego, and has no inherited powers. His father is actually just the Spartax King, J’Son, who looks like any normal human. That’s not very exciting, which is why Gunn decided to change things up. However the Ego from the comics is not a Celestial, as Russell’s version claims in the movie, but literally just a really old sentient planet. And one that has a face. Now even in a movie as out there as Guardians of the Galaxy, a talking planet with a goatee is a hard sell which is why Gunn and co went the Kurt Russell route. However in one scene as Rocket, Yondu and Kraglin approach Ego’s, you can see that the landmasses actually do form a face of sorts.
As I’ve mentioned, Marvel’s cosmic mythology is very deep, with some really big ideas. We’ve already touched on some of it very briefly in the two Guardians movies with the Infinity Stones, Celestials and the Watchers, but we may just have got a very tiny glimpse at the biggest entity out there. As Ego tries to convince Peter to join him on his quest to remake the entire universe in his image, he passes some cosmic power into Peter so that he can get a look at the bigger picture, so to speak. Peter’s eyes immediately fill up with a black starry field and he whispers one word: Eternity.
While newcomers may think he’s simply referring to the vastness of an infinite universe, fans will realize that he is probably referring to another character… who is actually the vastness of an infinite universe. Eternity is part of a group of cosmic beings that have existed since before the existence of the universe and who are the personifications of certain universal elements. Besides for Eternity this group also consists of Death, Oblivion, Infinity and Necessity (the latter being the balance brought by Galactus). Eternity is literally the universe itself, with all of time and space contained within him. In the cosmic hierarchy, Eternity and these others are second only to The Living Tribunal, an omnipotent being who governs the entirety of the Multiverse.
This is not the first time an Easter egg has referred to these beings though. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy, in the temple on Morag from which Peter Quill steals the Power Stone, a mural can be glimpsed that actually shows off Eternity, Infinity, Death and Oblivion surrounding the six Infinity Stones which are the coalescence of the six universes that came before this one.
As this is kept right up until the very end of the movie as the final credits scene, you should probably know that this is the big one. The scene shows Ayesha, exasperated after having been bested by the Guardians, having to answer for the destruction of most of the Sovereign fleet. However as is soon revealed, she has a plan for some “perfect” revenge. As the camera pans around we see that she’s cooking up something in a golden cocoon and then states that she will call him “Adam”. It’s at this point you will see the comic book geeks flip out in the audience.
Adam Warlock is an immensely powerful fan favourite character that first debuted in 1967. Like most of Marvel’s cosmic powerhouses, his comic book history is incredibly tricky. The cliff notes edition is that he was actually the very first perfect human created by the Enclave who also created Ayesha as I mentioned earlier (she was supposed to be, er… more perfect-er, but she went a little wacko). Although Adam – or as he was known back then, Him – started off human, he was eventually given a “rebirth” by another scientist known as the High Evolutionary using the Soul Stone, which was embedded in his forehead. Now called Adam Warlock he gained immense cosmic powers and became a space-faring hero of sorts that was involved in some of the biggest Marvel stories of all time, including playing a major role in the whole Infinity saga thanks to his connection to the Soul Stone.
He would eventually encounter Magus, who it turns out is a future version of Adam Warlock who has gone evil. Magus is also the head of the Universal Church of Truth which is a clear influence for the Sovereign. In the comics, Adam Warlock was one of those characters who would die and then get better and after one of these resurrections he teamed up with Peter Quill’s team of Guardians and together they would take on Magus and the Universal Church once and for all.
Incredibly cool and immensely powerful, fans have been wanting Adam Warlock to make an appearance ever since the original Guardians movie was first announced. His cocoon is in fact an Easter egg in the first movie as it can be spotted very quickly in the Collector’s collection. Gunn even wrote Adam into the early drafts of the screenplay for Vol. 2, however he eventually decided to tweak the story and remove Adam as he felt that the character was just too much for a movie that already had so many things going on.
One thing to note though, even though Adam Warlock was so heavily involved in the Infinity War against Thanos, he will not be debuting in the upcoming third Avengers movie which pulls from that story. Gunn has confirmed that Adam Warlock will only show up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which will supposedly be a set in very different Marvel Cinematic Universe than the one we have now, thanks to the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
We’ve covered the major Easter eggs and credit scenes (I don’t think I need to explain Kragglin trying to control Yondu’s arrow, or Peter Quill now becoming a dad of sorts to a teenage Groot), but there are a number of smaller nuggets scattered throughout the movie. Many of them occur in the film’s actual credits, which is accompanied by an original song written by Gunn and composer Tyler Bates and sung by none other than David Hasselhoff who had his own cameo earlier on in the movie.
Also in the credits, there are many little vids of the characters dancing to the song, but among the Guardians you will also see Cosmo. In the comics, Cosmo is a telepathic Russian cosmonaut dog who is actually the caretaker of the modern Guardians’ base. Just like Howard the Duck, he also showed up in the Collector’s menagerie in the first film as an Easter egg.
Seen dancing in the credits as well is none other than Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. His inclusion is a little weird as there’s nothing in the movie that even links to that film in any way. This has led to speculation that Gunn may have originally shot a scene involving the Grandmaster that teased Thor: Ragnarok but it was then dropped.
Another Easter egg in the credits is that several of the cast and crew’s names have been replaced by Groot’s signature (and only) phrase “I am Groot”. The final “I am Groot” in the credits actually changes at the last minute into a disclaimer that states “No raccoons or tree creatures were harmed during the making of this feature. The same cannot be said for handlers of said raccoons and tree creatures.”
And that wraps all the major Easter eggs and credits scenes. Any others that you spotted? Or maybe you just need something explained further. Feel free to hit us up in the comments below.
Last Updated: May 9, 2017